Waldemar Jensen was born in the small town Trostyanets in Ukraine (Russia) on August 1, 1915 into a family originating from Finland. His father was working as a doctor of medicine at a sugar mill. Soon after his birth, the Russian revolution forced the family to escape back to Finland and settle in Turku (Åbo).In 1938, Jensen received his M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the Åbo Akademi University (ÅA) and joined the G. A. Serlachius Oy TAKO carton board mill in Tampere. During the Second World War, he worked for the Finnish Army developing lubrication oils from wood tar. After the war, Jensen returned to ÅA and while working as a teacher also completed his doctoral studies related to the utilization of birch wood.
After finishing his doctorate in 1948, Jensen continued to work at ÅA and, in 1951, was appointed a full professor in wood chemistry. During his time at ÅA he worked on introducing birch as a raw material for bleached pulp and on the utilization of birch bark components for the production of various chemicals. His research led to the development of the birch pulp industry.
In 1955, Jensen was appointed CEO of the industry-owned Finnish Pulp and Paper Research Institute (KCL) with the mission to develop the institute into an efficient world-class industrial pulp and paper research organization. An important part of this process was the relocation of KCL into a new building in Otaniemi, in close connection with the Helsinki University of Technology (TKK). The new modern buildings were inaugurated in 1962. Jensen also developed and implemented a system for managing and combining the interests of some 25 companies into fruitful joint research programs benefitting all of them.
In post-war Europe, international contacts between research organizations were still scarce. Jensen made a great effort in developing these and he was definitely able to put KCL on the world map of pulp and paper research and he became a very well known and respected personality in the world of research institution leaders.
During his career Jensen received the Alexander Mitscherlich Medal of Zellcheming in 1973, the EUCEPA silver medal in 1981 and the Lampen medal in gold in 1987. He was a TAPPI Fellow since 1973. He also received Honorary Doctor’s degrees from two universities, the Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble, in 1978 and the Helsinki University of Technology in 1988.
Waldemar Jensen retired from KCL on August 1, 1980 and died on January 9, 2009 in Kauniainen, Finland.